Richard North, 21/03/2016  

Having missed out last week and then having been preoccupied with the Leave Alliance launch, the Brexit bloggers this week are producing a more than usually abundant crop. 

We start with Scribblings from Seaham who, in an entertaining piece, joins me in decrying our "supine media" who regularly parrot the latest utterances on the forthcoming referendum by those MPs who still do not realise that their views are of no consequence; and that, at the end of the day, it is the views of the British electorate that matter.

This is a good theme. Despite the many years the media have had to get used to the idea that there was to be a referendum on the EU, journalists still haven't fully understood that a referendum is about people voting, and that politicians have one vote, just like everyone else.

But SfS does refer to one of my recent articles where we again share a distaste for the media's latest ploy, turning what should be an issue-led debate into a grotesque game-show parody, effectively amounting to the "Dave and Boris Show". It becomes dominated by "he says – he says" arguments, with Dave lying his socks off and Boris uttering incomprehensible tosh.

This dovetails beautifully with White Wednesday's latest blog which has him commenting that voters are concluding that the referendum debate is poor and both sides are "not at all convincing".

It didn't help, writes White Wednesday that the "leave" side didn't have a clear workable plan for how they wanted to get out. Actually that was not quite true. There was indeed a very comprehensive and workable plan but because it contained a few things that some on the "leave" side didn't like, "they put their copy in an old cupboard weighted down with concrete and buried it out at sea under cover of darkness. Anyone who talked about it after that night got shouted at and had a bag put over their head".

Oddly enough, to one of our current posts, one commenter has added a reference to Saul Alinsky's seminal work, the Rules for Radicals published in 1971. Rule twelve of thirteen says: "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Never let the enemy score points because you're caught without a solution to the problem".

Almost everywhere it seems, there is a recognition that the campaign needs an exit plan, everywhere that is except amongst the noisemakers themselves, who rival the obstinacy of a pack of mules in refusing to put one on the table.

Mr Brexit, on the other hand notes that, for a number of weeks now several sources have said that Flexcit, has been doing the rounds in the higher reaches of the civil service.

While David Cameron and his pro-remain friends have been claiming no one has set out what "out" looks like, many around Whitehall have been reading and taking on board this supposedly non-existent Brexit plan.

Yesterday, in a sign that Flexcit has been hitting the mark, the Telegraph dropped this rather pleasing detail into a story about civil servants believing Brexit "could be seized upon by ministers as a liberating moment which would trigger a revolutionary shake-up of public policy":
According to one analysis, developing a Britain-specific deal is likely to take five years, running way beyond the two-year period between a country triggering the Article 50 exit clause and it being released from the European treaties.

As such, it is likely the UK would adopt a model similar to Norway's as holding position, before gravitating to a more bespoke arrangement, according to one scenario under discussion.
This, says WW is Flexcit in a nutshell. It's the staged process writ large.

Lost Leonardo then takes us to The Leave Alliance (TLA) launch, a network of new and established political groups, bloggers and tweeters who are committed to winning the EU referendum for the "leave" side.

What makes TLA unique among the declared leave groups is its support for a credible Brexit plan, Flexcit: The Market Solution. This is a six-phase plan for recovering Britain's national independence in stages, as part of a continuous process, rather than as a one-time event.

That change of perspective, says Lost Leonardo, shifts the Brexit debate firmly in the direction of pragmatic and practical politics. The exact form that our post-Brexit deal takes is less important than our vision for what we will do with our national independence.

Self-governance means taking responsibility unto ourselves and, if our politicians are any indication, a long process of discovery and rediscovery lies ahead.

So as to short cut the economics and trade-centred debate that has been allowed (some might say encouraged) to obscure the more important political question - who governs Britain? - the Flexcit plan advocates remaining in the Single Market and then working to create a genuine free trade area in Europe whilst also rebuilding the national policy-making framework and enhancing our democracy by means of The Harrogate Agenda.

Brexit Door, however, having already sorted the Leave Alliance, moves on to the Tampon Tax, urging his readers not to fall for what is in fact, a "trifling stunt". When you see this kind of nonsense, he writes, respond in the manner that it clearly deserves – blow it a bloody great raspberry! And then focus your attention the real issues and pay the politicians sideshows no further mind.

Before leaving the subject, however, we need to revisit Pete's blog and remind ourselves as to why tax was charged on tampon in the first place – alongside many other countries outside the EU.

The answer is depressingly simple in that it was grouped by the World Customs Organisation in a single taxable category of miscellaneous manufactured goods, alongside sanitary towels, napkins and napkin liners for babies and similar articles, of any material.

Bureaucratic inertia took over from there, and the product acquired a taxable status throughout the world, including the EU. And interestingly, while the UK was willing to be pushed around, in Australia there has been a rather different outcome, although Canada has been more amenable.

Red Cliffs of Dawlish runs one of his typically impressive posts, who remarks on the "baby-ification" of British Culture. One side of the argument is being driven by a Serial Liar and the other side by a Personification of Political Infantilism of our culture.

As for other blogs, The Sceptic Isle is bringing Flexcit to his readership, serialising the pamphlet, EU and Europe looks at Mr Cameron's lies – which should be exciting continued attention, while Semi-Partisan Politics spends time on a detailed examination of Iain Duncan Smith's resignation.

To conclude this review, we look at Pete North's latest blogpost, where he tells his readers to "start fighting like you mean it". This, like many others of his, is an uncompromising piece, which harks back to last Wednesday when two MPs were so offended by my comments about the unwillingness of the breed to challenge the Prime Minister for his lies to the House (and the nation at large).

Our elected representatives should be our line of defence against an over-mighty executive, but we are in a perverse situation where our MPs and MEPs think they are part of the government and it is their role to tell us what to do. Yet, like children, we roll over and acquiesce.

Somewhere along the line we have distorted the relationship whereby we look to such people as leaders rather than servants. That is why this referendum campaign has become so perverse, putting trust in people who know so little about anything.  

Rather than sucking up to the likes of Boris Johnson and Douglas Carswell, we should despise these people for being part of the problem, says Pete. We should be ripping holes in their "worthless ideas" instead of rolling out the red carpet for them.

In this world, we don't want Boris Johnson, Duncan Smith, Grayling or Gove. We don't want Galloway or Farage either. We want rid of the whole lot of them. Brexit is our catalyst to do exactly that. So, Pete concludes, "start fighting like you mean it".

It's a sombre conclusion but one which strikes at the whole referendum campaign. We do need people to fight for themselves, to think for themselves and to make their own decisions. We are not there to serve politicians. They – nominally at least – should be our servants.

If we allow them to set the agenda, to decide for us how we think, if we allow them to take over this campaign, we are giving up the one opportunity we have to exercise our power as a united people. That's our choice and upon it rests our destiny. That will demonstrate whether we are even capable of being a functioning democracy.

We the people, as much as the government and its EU policy, are on trial.

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